There were strong indications on Sunday that Southern governors would meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), after his return from France.
A source in the Southern Governors’ Forum told one of our correspondents that arrangements were being made for the governors to present their resolutions at their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital, to the President.
Recall that governors in the 17 states of Southern Nigeria had on Tuesday held a four-hour meeting in Asaba, Delta State.
As part of their 12-point resolution, the governors led by the governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, had said, “We observe that the incursion of armed herders, criminals and bandits into the southern part of the country has presented a severe security challenge such that citizens are not able to live their normal lives, including pursuing various productive activities, leading to a threat to food supply and general security.
“Consequently, the meeting resolved that open grazing of cattle be banned across Southern Nigeria.”
A top government official in Delta State, who confided in one of our correspondents, said, “The forum would definitely meet with the President, but the time the meeting will hold has not been revealed by them. But it is sure that the meeting with the President will hold.”
When contacted the Ondo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said the Chairman of the SGF and Ondo State Governor Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, had stated that the forum would meet with the President.
Ojogo said, “He (Akeredolu) has stated this already that the forum will meet the President and present the issues raised.”
Buhari on Sunday began a four-day official visit to France, where he would attend African Finance Summit.
According to the presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, the summit will focus on reviewing African economy, following shocks from COVID-19 pandemic, and getting relief, especially from increased debt burden on countries.
Also on Sunday, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria demanded establishment of two or three models of ranches as part of measures to put an end to open grazing.
The General Secretary of MACBAN, Baba Ngerzema, who said this in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, begged Southern governors over their ban on open grazing.
He urged the Federal Government to assist state governments in establishing model ranches.
Ngerzema said the governors should consider the plights of pastoralists that would be affected by their declaration, saying some of them were born and brought up in those Southern states.
He said, “For the interest of peace and unity of the country, the Southern governors should consider the plights of the pastoralists as bonafide citizens while agitating for the anti-open grazing policy because some of these herders are born and brought up in those states.
“In order not overheat the already fragile security situation of the country, let them all temper justice with mercy.
The governors’ resolutions also known as the Asaba Accord have been heavily criticised by northerners including Ali Ndume, who is representing the Borno South Senatorial District in the upper chamber; as well as Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello.
However reacting, Yesufu lambasted the detractors of the southern governors, saying, “I see some people coming out to say the southern governors do not have a right to make the decision for A, B, C, D.
“The decision that you had as northern governors with what right did you make them? The southern governors do not have a right to make laws in their own states but you have a right to make laws in your own states?
She added, “Nobody has monopoly of intolerance, nobody has monopoly of being selfish, nobody has monopoly of being self-centred; everybody has the capacity to be, that some people don’t do it does not mean anything.”
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum dismissed concern that the ban on open grazing would lead to influx of herdsmen into the Middle Belt.
The National Publicity Secretary of the MBF, Dr Isuwa Dogo, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Sunday, said although the group was not opposed to the ban, it (the ban) would no end insecurity.
Dogo who dismissed the belief that banning open grazing in the South would lead to the herders flooding the Middle Belt, pointed out that the southern governors were “merely chasing shadows with their actions
Dogo said, “We in the Middle Belt don’t have any problem with the southern governors banning open grazing in their region. We also do not bother whether such a ban will lead to an influx of herders to the Middle Belt. But if they (Southern governors) think that banning open grazing will bring solution to the problem of insecurity facing the people, let them think twice. We believe that open grazing is not the reason for insecurity in Nigeria.
“The insecurity is as a result of the presence of armed herders and terrorists who attack and kill innocent people at will. There are everywhere in the communities. They don’t move around with cows but weapons looking for their targets.
“And unless these people are dispossessed of these weapons and the source of those weapons and their financiers identified and blocked, the southern governors should not think that their decision to ban open grazing will achieve any results.”